How does camp matter?

Posted by Liz Perraud at

Does camp make a difference? Vibrant Faith reports that the recent Effective Camp Research Project provides concrete information on the impact of a one-week Christian camp experience on “the lives of the primary participants and their supporting networks.”

Phase 1 of the study, based on three camps in Wisconsin associated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, gathered data from camp participants age 11-14 years old, their parents, camp staff and directors, and church professionals visiting the camps.

The study identified 5 fundamental characteristics of camp:

  • Relational environment (meeting new people, practicing reconciliation)
  • Participatory (providing active, kinesthetic activities characterized as fun)
  • Different from home (a set apart location)
  • Safe space (special emphasis on emotional safety; place to be without fear of judgment or ridicule)
  • Faith-centered (faith experiences are not peripheral but are intertwined in all other characteristics)

For over 50 years, GenOn Ministries has provided training and resources for LOGOS, a weekly church-based intergenerational experience for young people that is modeled on the camp or conference setting.

The 5 fundamental characteristics of camp can also be found in a church’s LOGOS ministry.

We believe, and so teach, that a vital approach to Christian nurture must include camp/conference/mission trip/retreat-type experiences on a continual basis. Three to four hours per week provide sufficient time for the engagement of the body, mind and heart in Recreation, Bible Study, Worship Arts, and a Family Time meal—the four parts of LOGOS.

LOGOS provides the consistency (and so effectiveness) of the camp experience throughout the program year.

The study’s executive summary states that “Camp is not a magic formula. The data show, rather, that the camp model, when faithfully practiced, opens the possibility for change in individuals and their supporting networks.”

And similarly, LOGOS is not the goal or the end but a means to provide the environment for growing disciples of Jesus Christ. Find out more about LOGOS here. Learn about GenOn's summer week in Colorado and West Virginia for youth here

Phase 2 of the research gets deeper into “so what difference does it make?” by exploring the short-term and long-term impact of the camp experience. Stay tuned!

Check out the Effective Camp Research Project Findings from the Vibrant Faith website.

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